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Gamers and their avatars
June 17, 2007 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Gamers and their avatars
posted by CunningLinguist (85 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Very cool.
posted by rossination at 9:59 AM on June 17, 2007


Prescient.
posted by googly at 10:03 AM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jean-François de la Fage is trying way, way too hard.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:04 AM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Choi Seang Rak likes fruity dessert drinks.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:09 AM on June 17, 2007


My MetaFilter Avatar
posted by hermitosis at 10:14 AM on June 17, 2007 [34 favorites]


"Choi Seang Rak likes fruity dessert drinks."

That is going into my insult library.

"Oh yeah, well you like fruity dessert drinks!"
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:14 AM on June 17, 2007


Lovely bit of research. A nice balance of people. Would have liked to more about the people portrayed, though.
posted by MrMerlot at 10:15 AM on June 17, 2007


Did anyone else have to study this picture for a minute to be sure it was a real person on the left? There's something about it that has a very computer graphics like quality.
posted by jourman2 at 10:20 AM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was thinking the exact same thing, jourman... that picture made me wonder if ALL the pictures here are rendered.

I still wonder now, actually.
posted by Malor at 10:24 AM on June 17, 2007


Oh awesome... Liz is my coworker!

(They didn't mention that she works for the developers of Hero's Journey... heh.)

My character looks better than hers, but she herself is much more photogenic. :)
posted by Foosnark at 10:26 AM on June 17, 2007


I could swear I've seen that Choi Seang Rak photo/avatar before ... maybe they did it before. This one was better.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:31 AM on June 17, 2007


Interesting.

I never knew Anshe Chung was actually asian. I'd assumed, from her real name (Ailin Graef) that she was white and German.

The Korean actress apparently used to be an actor.
posted by Bugbread at 10:34 AM on June 17, 2007


My favorite avatar.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:35 AM on June 17, 2007


Interesting differences between those who deliberately attempted to look like their avatars for the photo, or at least posed the same way, and those who did not.
posted by dhartung at 10:43 AM on June 17, 2007


William Gibson's Idoru also talked about avatars, way back in 96 or so, after Snowcrash.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:43 AM on June 17, 2007


Second Life is not a game.
posted by bigmusic at 10:45 AM on June 17, 2007


Your Favorite Avatar Sucks

:-D
posted by humboldt32 at 10:45 AM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Interesting. Is there an article that goes with it?

They did an OK job of including pretty much all of the big pervasive world games out there, with the notable exception of LoTR Online. Personally, I wouldn't really count Second Life as a game like the others, though, it's more of an interactive IM environment, really. With the exception of City of Heroes, which has an amazing character creator, it's a lot easier to fit your online avatar to your real life persona in SL than it is in WoW, for example.
posted by gemmy at 10:49 AM on June 17, 2007


I could have sworn this was a double, but apparently I'm mistaken.

Really cool stuff.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:51 AM on June 17, 2007



William Gibson's Idoru also talked about avatars, way back in 96 or so, after Snowcrash.


Actually the term avatar actually comes from snowcrash. It's weird reading a book that defines and coins a term, since for the original readers it would have been something new, but for us it's obvious what the word means, even cliched.
posted by delmoi at 10:53 AM on June 17, 2007


Main Entry: av·a·tar
Pronunciation: 'a-v&-"tär
Function: noun
Etymology: Sanskrit avatArah descent, from avatarati he descends, from ava- away + tarati he crosses over -- more at UKASE, THROUGH
1 : the incarnation of a Hindu deity (as Vishnu)
2 a : an incarnation in human form b : an embodiment (as of a concept or philosophy) often in a person
3 : a variant phase or version of a continuing basic entity
4 : an electronic image that represents and is manipulated by a computer user (as in a computer game)
posted by humboldt32 at 10:57 AM on June 17, 2007


I was thinking we need a "NewYorkTimesFilter" prefix....
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:04 AM on June 17, 2007


From the Introduction

"As Hiro approaches the Street, he sees two young couples, probably using their parents' computers for a double date in the Metaverse, climbing down out of Port Zero, which is the local port of entry and monorail stop.

He is not seeing real people, of course. This is all a part of the moving illustration drawn by his computer according to the specifications coming down the fiber-optic cable. The people are pieces of software called avatars."

-Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash, page 35.

Several more avatar related Snowcrash quotes here:
posted by humboldt32 at 11:10 AM on June 17, 2007


This one is a bit cliched, but still damn sad.
posted by brundlefly at 11:11 AM on June 17, 2007


delmoi writes "Actually the term avatar actually comes from snowcrash."

That's what I thought, too, but googling seems to indicate that it's a bit older.
This has a decent run-down

It mentions that Neal Stephenson initially thought he was the originator of that usage, but was later corrected, and he later wrote a corrected afterword for Snow Crash to that effect.
posted by Bugbread at 11:12 AM on June 17, 2007


brundlefly writes "This one is a bit cliched, but still damn sad."

At first, I assumed you meant "sad" in some sort of weight-related way, but then I checked out the hours: 55 gaming hours per week?? That's almost 8 hours a day!
posted by Bugbread at 11:14 AM on June 17, 2007


Life imitates Art. Art imitates Life. Some of these pix are really scary, others feel oke. I still don't get it that adult people can spend so much time in virtual worlds. I would be bored out of my skull ...

On a sidenote: any weak nerd would look like Arnold, if he would spend 30 hours in a gymn a week for a year.
posted by homodigitalis at 11:16 AM on June 17, 2007


well you like fruity dessert drinks

Girl Drink Drunk doesn't care.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:17 AM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


The first time I saw this I giggled and snarked - then came up short and breathless against this. Which I found profoundly moving, and more reassuring than anything I've seen for a while that maybe we are getting somewhere, maybe this internet stuff is more than centrifugal bumblepuppy and ill health.
posted by freebird at 11:37 AM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


bigmusic writes 'Second Life is not a game.'

That probably explains why it's no fun.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:41 AM on June 17, 2007 [7 favorites]


homodigitalis writes "On a sidenote: any weak nerd would look like Arnold, if he would spend 30 hours in a gymn a week for a year."

Yeesh. 18% of a year spent in hard physical labour...I get the heebie-geebies just thinking about it.
posted by Bugbread at 11:42 AM on June 17, 2007


agreed, freebird. That's one potential future for all of us, life in a tank, connected to net 24/7.

The percentage of my present body required to read and contribute to eg. mefi is horrifyingly small.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:45 AM on June 17, 2007


The City of Heroes ones had particular resonance for me. I only briefly visited Second Life (and didn't like it much). The other games are as foreign to me as Shanghai, but I only just left CoH recently, and a couple of those CoH avatars look familiar. I may have actually teamed up with a couple of those guys.

As for my avs when I was in there, I had one guy who was as close to my actual appearance as I could muster at the time, and others were decidedly not me at all. To be honest though, I don't even look like my ZachsMind avatar in CoH anymore, cuz I've buzzed off my hair and shaved my beard. I look more like this.

Strangely, when I was in a female av I'd often get people unsoliticiously giving me free stuff more often than in a male av, and I'd get invited to teams more readily, but I'd go with whichever gender fit that character design idea better. Some people would take it personally when they'd discover I was a guy. As if CoH was some place to pick up chicks. Weirdoes.

I left due to finances, and because I've done pretty much everything in there I'd wanted to do. I already miss it though. It was a fun game. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 11:45 AM on June 17, 2007


Actually the term avatar actually comes from snowcrash.

I remember in the late 1970's, in high school, reading the liner notes from the Who's Tommy double LP and encountering the word "Avatar" for the first time in my life. The credit for "Avatar" went to Meher Baba. Though at the time there was no World Wide Web with which to google "Meher Baba", I managed to learn that he attained enlightenment after being hit on the head with a rock.

I guess I'm somewhat disappointed that more people don't post photos of Meher Baba as their avatar, for obligatory ironic effect.

Interestingly, the "Avatar-of-the-age" is the original don't-worry-be-happy-guy...
posted by Tube at 11:45 AM on June 17, 2007


HomoDigitalis: "On a sidenote: any weak nerd would look like Arnold, if he would spend 30 hours in a gymn a week for a year."

Any muscle bound jerk could look like a geek chic nerd if he'd spent thirty hours on the Web a week for a year.

To each his own. Personally if I had to spend even an hour a day in a weightlifting room or running around in circles I would be bored out of my skull.

Of course, my sedentary lifestyle means I'm gonna die soon, probably of a coronary, and I'll probably be found hunched over my monitor drooling on my keyboard, and people will look at the gluttonous husk I leave behind and shake their heads in dismay and astonishment. How could someone let themselves go like this?

Whether you're online or offline, if you're enjoying what you do with your life, does the rest of it really matter in the end?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:55 AM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


My favorite in a poignant kinda way.
posted by The Deej at 12:59 PM on June 17, 2007


@Foosnark

I assumed your coworker Liz worked for the dev because the times did mention in the little snippet below that the game was "in development".

That's a nice bit of sly advertisement for a game that isn't released yet.

I also think it's awesome that an MMO is being developed in Missouri. My assumption has always been that development happens on the west coast and that's where you have to be. It's nice to have those assumptions smashed.

Good luck with the game.
posted by strontiumdog at 1:13 PM on June 17, 2007


"My assumption has always been that development happens on the west coast..."

Cryptic Studios, the company that developed City of Heroes/Villains, is located in Austin Texas. =) That's about an hour inland of the southwest coast.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:19 PM on June 17, 2007


It really seems like the most interesting people have the most interesting avatars.

I liked this.
posted by blacklite at 1:21 PM on June 17, 2007


Not completely true, ZachsMind.

They WERE based in Los Gatos, but they may be in Austin now. Or the Austin studio is a satellite office.

They still have a big presence here in the SF Bay Area.
posted by strontiumdog at 1:27 PM on June 17, 2007


And I'm going to second (or third, whatever) that Second Life is not a game. It's a crappy, ugly IM environment.
posted by strontiumdog at 1:29 PM on June 17, 2007


I wish there was one avatar here that was half as interesting as looking at the person who made it.
posted by pinothefrog at 1:33 PM on June 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


As previously discussed in another thread, the obese cigarette-smoking/Bible-toting stripper avatar that got me quickly banned on Second Life was awfully fun to design. She had Michael Jackson's nose, which admittedly was a bit difficult to breathe through but very sexy. And since she's apparently Irish (although I'm not), when not wearing black lace lingerie for her stripping job she was very fond of tartan stretch pants.

Good times.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:56 PM on June 17, 2007


miss lynnster, that is wrong on so many levels. But I find it hard to believe, considering the avatar choices people make and the kinds of things those people DO with those avatars in SL, you got banned for that look.
posted by strontiumdog at 2:03 PM on June 17, 2007


Well, my avatar was a VERY good dancer. Very energetic and athletic for her size. I thought her lingerie was pretty hot, really. I think it was that she never put down her Bible to dance that was the problem.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:11 PM on June 17, 2007


I might be thinking about NCSoft then, strontiumdog. One of them's in Texas and the other is in California. One of them bought the other out. I was too busy chasing after Freakshow and Council baddies to memorize the details at the time. So long as I wasn't getting mapserver errors I was happy, wherever they hang their hat.

My point was it's not ALL happening in California.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:14 PM on June 17, 2007


I remember playing Habitat and Club Caribe on Q-Link back in the day and remember those both having avatars. Stephenson wasn't being prescient, he was describing an already existing phenomena. Though clearly he worked through the implications better than anyone else.
posted by empath at 2:23 PM on June 17, 2007


miss lynnster: you did not get banned from Second Life. A property owner kicked you off his or her property.
posted by Malor at 2:47 PM on June 17, 2007


Jesus, I thought that was a little kid. Then I saw the goatee. Then I saw he was born in 1974, making him my age.
posted by emelenjr at 2:54 PM on June 17, 2007


Awesome, thanks.
posted by sneakin at 3:08 PM on June 17, 2007


Err, I meant Avitar in the sense of a 3-d computer representation of a user. Obviously the word itself is pretty old.

I didn't know about the use of the term in that habitat game, but I think the credit should go to Stephenson. First of all, when we say avatar these days it's usually in reference to a three dimensional VR sense, not 2d sprites. Maybe that's just my impression though, and it's definitely splitting hairs.

Anyway, whether or not Stephenson was the first person ever to use that term in that way doesn't mean the other uses of the term don't derive from Snowcrash I think most people heard the term from someone who heard it from someone else and if you trace it all the way back, most people would have gotten it from the book.

Stephenson wasn't being prescient, he was describing an already existing phenomena.

No one said he was prescient, the book was pretty light-hearted anyway. But when he thought up the term he hadn't heard it used that way before.
posted by delmoi at 3:12 PM on June 17, 2007


These are from a book and have also appeared on the BBC website with a more narrative presentation of info about the subjects. There is a bit of overlap between the NYT slideshow in the OP and the BBC mentioned here, but most are different.
posted by stevil at 3:12 PM on June 17, 2007


All this avatar discussion is making me miss the good-old-days, when "user names" were called "handles" and "avatars" were called "characters".

emelenjr writes "Jesus, I thought that was a little kid. Then I saw the goatee. Then I saw he was born in 1974, making him my age."

Exact same sequence for me, too.
posted by Bugbread at 3:24 PM on June 17, 2007


FROM: Mikey-San
TO: Fat kid playing Everquest 55 hours per week

SUBJECT: Re: Your ass

MESSAGE:

Get off of it. You are very obese. Stop playing video games all the time and buy some running shoes. Use them.
posted by Mikey-San at 3:41 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


YES Malor, I KNOW. We've discussed this. I was banned FROM AN AREA of Second Life. It's all very clear and I'm not going to go over it or re-apologize to you for being insensitive to your love for Second Life. Been there, done that. kthxbye.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:48 PM on June 17, 2007


Actually, I'm kinda thankful Malor pointed that out, because I didn't see the previous discussion, and I was thinking "Wha? Second Life banned you for being a fat stripper with a Bible? I didn't think they had rules like that."
posted by Bugbread at 4:02 PM on June 17, 2007


Whoa. I just found the thread you were talking about when you say "We've discussed this". I can see why it's not a topic you'd like to discuss again.
posted by Bugbread at 4:10 PM on June 17, 2007


Liz and Foosnark must work for Simutronics in St. Louis. Simutronics was a pioneer in online RPGs back in GEnie days. Gemstone III is still the pinnacle of online role-playing for me and is unlikely to be equalled any time soon.

Having to pay $3-$6 an hour to play tends to weed out the kids and people not invested in their characters. This was back in like 1991ish. Online RPGs are not new.

I'm a big fan of Simutronics. That said, Hero's Journey has been a disaster. I had a private look at it at E3 in like 1999. That's EIGHT YEARS AGO. Then the lead programmer like took off to Europe or something and it never came to anything. Which was a shame as it had some truly innovative features and Simutronics is the only company I would trust to actually encourage - or even require - roleplaying.

I'll cross my fingers for them.
posted by Justinian at 4:15 PM on June 17, 2007


As previously discussed in another thread, the obese cigarette-smoking/Bible-toting stripper avatar that got me quickly banned on Second Life was awfully fun to design. She had Michael Jackson's nose, which admittedly was a bit difficult to breathe through but very sexy. And since she's apparently Irish (although I'm not), when not wearing black lace lingerie for her stripping job she was very fond of tartan stretch pants.

Dammit miss lynnster, how will I ever get over my crush if you keep up those kind of descriptions?
posted by The Deej at 4:35 PM on June 17, 2007


I had a good time playing City of Heroes. For those of you who don't speak nerd, character creation is front-loaded in CoH -- you pretty much make the avatar you want at the beginning. (Later on, you are awarded things like the right to wear a cape and glow or give off flames, but basically you can jump in and be who you want, visually at least.)

Other games, notably WoW, have a lot less in the way of character customization. And, as a new player, you wear armor and stuff that looks home-made (not in a good way). Different philosophies and all that.

And any guess as to what that man with the SWG avatar has? He looks eight, but he's actually 32.
posted by bardic at 4:43 PM on June 17, 2007


Also from today's New York Times—the working life of a Chinese WOW goldfarmer. Twelve-hour days, three days off a month, thirty cents an hour:
In part because gold farmers’ hunting patterns are so repetitive, they are easy to spot, making them ready targets for pent-up anti-R.M.T. hostility, expressed in everything from private sarcastic messages to gratuitous ambushes that can stop a farmer’s harvesting in its tracks. In homemade World of Warcraft video clips that circulate on YouTube or GameTrailers, with titles like “Chinese Gold Farmers Must Die” and “Chinese Farmer Extermination,” players document their farmer-killing expeditions through that same Timbermaw-ridden patch of WoW in which Min does his farming — a place so popular with farmers that Western players sometimes call it China Town. Nick Yee, an M.M.O. scholar based at Stanford, has noted the unsettling parallels (the recurrence of words like “vermin,” “rats” and “extermination”) between contemporary anti-gold-farmer rhetoric and 19th-century U.S. literature on immigrant Chinese laundry workers.
[via]
posted by Sonny Jim at 4:44 PM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


FROM: ZachsMind
TO: Mikey-San
SUBJECT: Re: Fat kid playing Everquest 55 hours per week

MESSAGE:

Get over yourself. You are a meanie beanie. Stop posting messages to a guy too busy having fun and playing video games to read what you have to say in MeFi.
______________________________

FROM: ZachsMind
TO: Malor
SUBJECT: Miss Leinster

MESSAGE:

You're a meanie beanie too, Malor! =P
posted by ZachsMind at 5:01 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


when [Stephenson] thought up the term he hadn't heard it used that way before.

I find that difficult to believe - he is an avid researcher. "Avatar" was in common use for the character representations within AOL/Quantum Link's Habitat game in the late 1980s, and that was pretty well known in the scene. As one of the earliest popular implementations, it got written up quite a lot. Michael Benedikt's Cyberspace from MIT Press in 1990/1991 had *extensive* write-ups on Habitat, and in-depth analysis of what and was not an avatar, and used the phrase liberally. It also had some early William Gibson prose that evolved into some of the Bridge scenes in Virtual Light.

On a side-note, I finally checked out Second Life. Much of it looks like the early Sony/BBC experimental shared world from the mid-90s - and big sections of it are as empty. I went there and "watched" performances on virtual screens inside a virtual world. Now over a decade later I get to do the same thing again. Plus ça change.
posted by meehawl at 7:07 PM on June 17, 2007


'That's just what I complain of,' said Humpty Dumpty. 'Your face is the same as everybody has -- the two eyes, so --' (marking their places in the air with his thumb) 'nose in the middle, mouth under. It's always the same. Now if you had the two eyes on the same side of the nose, for instance -- or the mouth at the top -- that would be some help.'

'It wouldn't look nice,' Alice objected. But Humpty Dumpty only shut his eyes, and said 'Wait till you've tried.'


These avatars are boring. In some of these environments -- at least in Second Life, and in certain actual games I've seen -- you could literally be anything you wanted to be. Why, then, does everyone settle for the merely human?
posted by darksasami at 7:12 PM on June 17, 2007


I have a sambhogakaya instead; always more fun in your body of enjoyment.
posted by Abiezer at 7:17 PM on June 17, 2007


As I said elsewhere today, I find it hilarious that they include Harisu (NAME Harisu BORN 1975 OCCUPATION Actress LOCATION Seoul, South Korea), who is, of course, Korea's most famous (and damn fine lookin' -- that's not a great photo) post-op transgendered person, without further mention of her notoriety here. She's on TV all the time on various variety-type shows, and her softporn romps are slightly weird but quite... interesting. I'll refrain from linking to any examples.

I guess that's cool, though, because her genital situation is not really germane, I don't think.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:17 PM on June 17, 2007


Strangely, when I was in a female av I'd often get people unsoliticiously giving me free stuff more often than in a male av

Strangely, in this case, being equal to 'obviously'. It has always been thus.

On the other hand, my main female WoW avatar never gets given free stuff - but then she looks like a giant cow. I tend to split my avatars 50/50 m/f but only the shapely elfin ones ever get given free stuff or offers of a good time, or even asked if I am really a girl. In the latter case I usually respond in the affirmative using excesses amounts of profanity, which seems to confuse them.

And the the chap with the breathing apparatus, reminds me of a character in Tad William's OtherWorld series
posted by Sparx at 1:01 AM on June 18, 2007


I would never play a female avatar, but I would play a bald midget with an enormous handle bar mustache. For hours. If I played. Which I don't.
posted by ewkpates at 3:03 AM on June 18, 2007


I would play a bald midget with an enormous handle bar mustache.

I can't tell from your comment if you are specifically referring to the fact that you can do this in WoW or not. Because, in case you didn't know, you can live your dream there.
posted by marble at 6:43 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Previously.
posted by brautigan at 8:16 AM on June 18, 2007


I didn't really see it as self righteous. It just looked like he was correcting you. He may have seemed a little firm, but that can probably be linked to seeing you go on again with incorrect information. I liken it to someone having a thread deleted and then saying they were banned from Metafilter.

Maybe I missed something, but he didn't seem offended by your fat stripperness, just your continued errors in describing the situation.

Anyway, it's interesting to see the various customization permitted in these games. Something like WoW or Everquest you can't really change your avatar around once in the game. Second Life permits it at a whim. A lot of times in WoW you end up looking like a dork because the best pants you can find are bright green with a pink stripe down the side.
posted by ODiV at 10:03 AM on June 18, 2007


I liken it to someone having a thread deleted and then saying they were banned from Metafilter.

The self-righteous anger that spews out when people have to deal with the fact that they're wrong is just.... beautiful. ::cries tears of joy::
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:07 AM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Second Life is not a game.

Though giving a rats ass about anything that took place in Second Life to the point of obsession probably classifies it as one.
posted by Stynxno at 11:00 AM on June 18, 2007


Make of that what you will.

Apparently we will-- everytime Second Life is mentioned on MetaFilter. This is just one nail in a double-wide coffin from being settled forever, you know.
posted by hermitosis at 11:02 AM on June 18, 2007


I'm imagining Miss Lynnster recounting these fraught exchanges somewhere down the line:

'This reminds of that avatar thread on Mefi where Malor CAME THROUGH THE INTERNETS and BLOWED MY HOUSE UP.'
posted by RokkitNite at 11:52 AM on June 18, 2007


that made my skin crawl.
posted by petersn1 at 1:24 PM on June 18, 2007


"when a grapefruit falling on your foot" -> "by a grapefruit falling on your foot"
posted by Bugbread at 1:52 PM on June 18, 2007


Nobody besides you particularly cares that you were a fat stripper chick.

Well... I care.
posted by The Deej at 2:35 PM on June 18, 2007


"I might be thinking about NCSoft then, strontiumdog. One of them's in Texas and the other is in California. One of them bought the other out."

No. Cryptic is City of Heroes' developer. They're in the Bay Area. The game is published by NCsoft, a Korean company whose American offices are based in Austin, with satellites in Orange County and Seattle. NCsoft doesn't own Cryptic -- that's why Cryptic is able to go through Microsoft for the upcoming Marvel MMO.

"My point was it's not ALL happening in California."

That part is true. There are major developers in Seattle, a few more in Austin, one in Virginia, and one in Boston.
posted by liet at 3:11 PM on June 19, 2007


Since everyone wants my opinion, here it is: Malor should stfu, and miss lynnster should stop telling her fat stripper story... on 3... 1, 2, 3!

Now, back to the thread.

ZachsMind, I'm always a little disturbed by men who play women in the game... but then, the whole online gender issues is a weird one, I never would have thought that people would hit on each other virtually.

Is an avatar an expression of the self?
posted by ewkpates at 3:36 AM on June 20, 2007


ewkpates: "ZachsMind, I'm always a little disturbed by men who play women in the game... "

That's because you're (maybe. i could be wrong) looking at this all backward.

While the avatar in today's MMORPG may be how others perceive you in the virtual space, more specifically it is how the player wants to be represented in that space. This is not the same thing. The avatar is not a mask that you wear. It's a proxy that you display. It's not a costume that you put on. It is a marionette that you manipulate from afar. The avatar is not your clone; it is your puppet. Depending on how you look at it, this could prove to be more morbid and disturbing than grown men wearing ladies' undies.

I have carte blanche tho. I can get away with it. I'm a frustrated writer.

The first few characters I created were guys, but I'd lose interest in them after awhile. Either the chosen power set wouldn't do what I thought it'd do before I used it in practice, or I'd learn after playing that I made some choice in character creation that revealed I was a noob, or I'd discover I created a toon that worked well on a team but not by itself or vice versa.. There's a thousand pitfalls in City of Heroes for the new player.

On a whim, after I'd read a bit about the different power sets and came across one that seemed most appealing, I thought I'd try the female form just for a change of pace. Well... not so much on a whim. It coincided better with the character idea I had in mind. I had this idea about a young woman who'd lived on the streets; knew them intimately. She'd been a petty thief in her youth because she was a runaway, and had hung out with the gangs that are prevalent in the city. It was a story idea I wanted to explore, of a young girl who one day learned she'd had the ability to influence the world around her, but her unconscious influence had led her to the darkest and most depraved corners of her world, and what did that say about her own self-worth? If she had the power unconsciously to manipulate other people and even her environment, why wasn't she fulfilling her own greatest fantasies? Why wasn't she rich and famous? Why was she homeless and unhappy?

It's a story I'm still working on actually, but the confines of City of Heroes no longer support the concept.

I wasn't so much creating an avatar I wanted to be, but a character whose stories I wanted to tell. I wasn't seeing COH so much as a chance to be Superman: I wanted to be more like Stan Lee. The other toons I'd invented were similar - nothing like me, but protagonists who fit into plots I wanted to express.

I didn't think Elusive would interest me more past level 10, cuz the other characters I'd made up to that point hadn't. However, by level ten I had in mind a very intricate idea of who this little girl was. Where she'd been. Where she was going. What made her tick. Elusive was the only character I got all the way to fifty, because it was just fun hanging out with her. She's a walking party.

She's got shades of Pippi Longstocking, Nancy Drew, Emma Peel, and Paris Hilton, with just a tinge of Mark Twain, and a tendency towards the twenties flapper era which I never quite understood. I guess ultimately what's disappointed me most about City of Heroes, and why I left, was that you're essentially telling a story of a vigilante you design, but you're telling that story to yourself, and no one else really cares, because the avatar they have before them represents the story they want to tell themselves. Everyone in the game is their own lead character in a comedic melodrama - a title of their own comic if you will - but to everyone else, you are but a footnote on their own great heroic epic. At best you can be someone else's sidekick.

I want to be a storyteller, but I've yet to find a medium where I can express that.

So you might perceive men playing female avatars as being virtual transvestites, but really they're just storytellers, and they happen to like stories with women in them. Currently instead of playing CoH, in my spare time I'm reading Sue Grafton's "A Is For Alibi" series of books with Kinsey Millhone as Grafton's modern-day answer to Miss Marple. What's that tell you?

After I got Elusive to fifty, I created a young black male speedster named Dwayne Thompson. Does this mean I secretly wanna be African-American? No. I just invented a character concept I thought was cool and ran with it. I lost interest in him though when I figured out I could never make my speedster character faster than a third of the rest of the game's population, thus making BreakThrough seem very un-unique indeed.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:02 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


[please take the extensive derail off to metatalk -- just putting it in small letters doesn't mean it's not derailing the thread and all back and forth namecalling needs to go to METATALK. thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 2:31 PM on June 20, 2007


*stares blankly at Jessamyn*

Did I miss something? I'm completely out of the loop aren't I? Somethin's goin' on... Here I am actually ON TOPIC for once... I'm completely clueless aren't I? Somethin' happenin' right under my feet. Dangit! I always miss out on all the fun!
posted by ZachsMind at 4:40 PM on June 20, 2007


ZachsMind, that wasn't aimed at you. The stuff it was aimed at was all excised, hence making it a bit hard to understand.
posted by Bugbread at 6:32 PM on June 20, 2007


I didn't think it was aimed at me, BugBread, but thanks. I just ...I felt like the democratic party must feel whenever Bush and his cronies lock themselves behind closed doors to tell each other dirty jokes. I hate knowing fun times were had and I missed 'em.

But back to the thread topic.

Honestly, I can't believe there aren't more MeFites with pics of themselves and their virtual counterparts.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:45 PM on June 24, 2007


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